Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Many novels pose ethical and moral questions about humanity. Science fiction alternate history should strive to highlight the injustices of our collective past.
IT GIVES YOU STRENGTH sets several chapters of the novel in the infamous Craig Colony. As difficult as it is now to believe, New York State institutionalized or ”warehoused” its citizens with seizure disorders at the Craig Colony from 1894 until it was finally closed in 1968. Men and women who had committed no crime were essentially held like prisoners. They were forbidden from having relationships, falling in love, or marrying. Since they were considered too weak and feeble to hold challenging jobs, from childhood, they were taught vocations like brick making and sewing. The physicians at the Craig Colony even lobbied the N.Y. Legislature to make marriage and cohabitation with Epileptics illegal under NY state law.
Similar colonies were created in Ohio, Virginia and Texas. They were all a terrible byproduct of the Eugenics movement, a dark interval in American history. Although the medical staff at the Craig Colony regarded themselves as well intentioned, they were misguided.